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Farmers want win-win end to Sino-US 'spat'

By Paul Welitzkin in Des Moines, Iowa | China Daily | Updated: 2018-04-17 09:43

For Rick Hawbaker, who runs a John Deere dealership in Nevada, Iowa, the current trade disagreement between the US and China is like a marital spat.

"We have been married to China for a while, and we have had a spat. Now it's time to kiss and make up," he said in an interview on Thursday

Hawbaker is not alone in wanting the "spat" to end, as more than 30 percent of Iowa's soybeans are sent to China, and the state is a major hog producer.

A potential trade war that includes two of the state's most important products has created angst among those whose livelihoods depend on the agricultural economy.

China has slapped a 25 percent tariff on pork and other agriculture products in response to the US imposing tariffs on Chinese aluminum and steel exports.

That caused the US to threaten 25 percent tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese imports, and China responded with a tariff threat on US products including a 25 percent tariff on soybean exports.

Rick Kimberley is a fifthgeneration farmer who grows corn and soybeans on 4,000 acres near Nevada with his son Grant.

"We are hopeful that they (China and the US) can work this out. If the (soybean) tariff lasts, that would affect the farm economically and the community," Rick Kimberley said in an interview.

Kimberley, who is also employed by the Iowa Soybean Association, said a tariff on US soybeans would also probably mean an increase in the price to purchase soybeans from South America for Chinese producers and ultimately for Chinese consumers. "So nobody is going to win in this situation," he added.

If he could talk to US President Donald Trump, Kimberley said he would tell him that he understands there are some issues between the US and China that need to be discussed, but he added that, "China is a big market, and we have spent years building up the relationship. It's something we don't want to lose."

He said that he hopes China and the US can work it out. "We know that is what's best for both China and the US. It's a great relationship and we just want that to continue," he added.

Kimberley's son Grant said he would tell Trump that China is extremely important for US agriculture trade. "Let's make sure we do no harm to that and make sure we continue to negotiate," he said. "There is more to gain by working together than if we dig in our heels. I want to make sure that both sides are working together."

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